Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador

Horacio Castellanos Moya, trans. from the Spanish by Lee Klein. New Directions, $14.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2539-7
Moya (Senselessness) emerged as a major presence in Latin American literature in part because of the 1997 publication of this short but affecting novel. Available now in English for the first time, Moya’s politically charged excoriation of his home country, El Salvador, is an extended, memorable monologue. The narrator, named Edgardo Vega, returns to San Salvador for the first time in 18 years and feels zero nostalgia. He meets Moya (a fictional version of the author) at a bar and begins a tirade, but Moya never replies. Vega criticizes the country, including its transportation system, higher education institutions, food, weather, and even the state of its journalism: the people don’t care about literature or history, the politicians are ignorant, and even the doctors are corrupt. Vega is revolted by practically every aspect of life in San Salvador, and yet he has returned in order to sell his recently deceased mother’s house. Revulsion is often a necessary part of love, but Moya’s narrator feels his homeland is wholly irredeemable. In a new afterword, Moya plainly states that he wrote the novel as “an exercise in style,” a clear attempt to mimic Thomas Bernhard’s literary rants against his native Austria. The book might be more of a political exercise than a literary one, but still we are lucky to have it in English. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/04/2016
Release date: 07/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 128 pages - 978-0-8112-2540-3
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